Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stealing The Halloween Candy: It's Proust's Fault!

I confess.

I did it.

After the kids were abed, I made my way to the plastic jack-o-lantern buckets on the kitchen counter, and dumped out both kids' hauls on the floor, on the pretext of sorting through any loose, unwrapped candy or candy they could choke on. 

Looking at the bounty before me, childhood memories flooding back, mouth starting to water, suddenly craving artificial-tasting, factory-made, non-artisan treats, I lost all willpower.  Within seconds, I'd unwrapped and devoured my first Fun-Size Nestle's Crunch bar in perhaps a decade.  The Mounds Bar, we're probably talking 25 years.  And this wasn't my first transgression.  At the Halloween party, I ate one of the ghost-shaped cookies too -- smothered in orange frosting.

It's not that I haven't eaten any candy in years.  
But aside from the occasional bag of M & Ms munched on a transcontinental flight or long California drive, I've pretty much stayed away from the mass-produced, non-Valhrona/Scharffenberger/Lindt variety of chocolate.  As a proud foodie, I've disdained the items on the shelves of the supermarket in the check-out aisle, and opted for the kinds of candy made from well-sourced ingredients, produced in relatively small batches compared to the output of the Mars corporation, candy that comes with a serious price tag.  For years I've looked down on waxy American chocolate, and candy bars loaded with artificial ingredients that don't even sound like food.  I've also shied away for health reasons; suffering as I do from acid reflux, I've even limited my artisan chocolate consumption to rare occasions.

But Halloween night, my disdain and good sense, for once, could not trump my desire -- a desire for a taste of childhood that could only be satisfied by eating the stuff I'd forsworn.  Nor did my guilt about stealing from my kids stop me.  They had so much, I reasoned.  They wouldn't miss a candy bar or two.

If Marcel Proust could be magically transported back to his childhood with a bite of a Madeleine cookie, then why should I deny myself the same wonderful sensation?

Or so I reasoned.

Those few bites of familiar candy tastes and textures brought me right back to happy memories of sorting through my own Halloween haul; of costumes donned, of parties attended and thrown, of tinkling coins in Unicef boxes, of the thrill of being out after dark, of the comforting ritual of watching "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!," and of having the candy stash last for days and days and days.

It's days later, and so far, my crime has gone undetected.  This is one case where what the kids don't know  (or haven't yet noticed) won't hurt them.  They can live with a little less sugar.  Apparently, though, I couldn't.  But I don't regret it.  It was my little Marcel Proust moment.  And it was yummy.

The good thing is, once I satisfied the urge, it left me.  I've since walked by those kitchen counter Jack-o-Lantern buckets, still brimming with sweets, dozens of times, without even being tempted. 
But next year, no doubt I'll have my Marcel Proust moment all over again.  Kids, I hope you forgive me.  I once was a kid too.  And that kid is still inside me.  But she promises not to eat your last KitKat.

1 comment:

David B said...

So glad I'm not the only one to have dipped.